Patience is a virtue or so the saying goes…
We ask God for it only to regret it when challenging situations come our way. Many of us have been waiting in our singleness for a very long time. The temptation to quit is very real and happens way too often. Anna’s story has encouraged me greatly in learning to become a woman of patience.
Anna, the Prophetess
And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. (Luke 2:36-37a)
A great way to think of a prophet is “someone who is in touch with God’s values and speak those things into other people…” (Gravity Leadership). Throughout the history of God’s people, there were only a few women who were prophetess: Miriam, Deborah, Isaiah’s wife, Huldah, and Noadiah. Living in a patriarchal society, it’s amazing they spoke with such boldness the words they received from God. Yet, God specifically chose them to speak to His people.
Anna had been married as was the custom at the time. There is nothing about how happy (or unhappy) she was in her marriage. Only that it lasted for seven years before he died and she never married again. As a widow, she had the option to marry again but instead chose to remain single for the rest of her years.
Dedicated to God
She did not depart from the temple, worshipping with fasting and prayer night and day. (Luke 2:37b)
In biblical times, a girl reached womanhood when she reached puberty, which was around the age of 12. If that were the case, Anna could have been a widow by the time she was 19 years old. In the bloom of her life, she dedicated herself to the Lord. For 65 years, she remained in the temple serving God. How could she have persevered for so long when our natural bent is to doubt and throw up our hands in frustration with God’s timetable?
There’s a battle while we wait and we have two spiritual weapons we can use: prayer and fasting. When we read the Bible, it can be so easy to gloss over the words and not take the time to meditate on them. We can read Anna’s story and believe that fasting and prayer were easy for her but these two disciplines are never easy; not with these fallen bodies. In her years of widowhood, Anna became a woman of patience.
Lessons from Anna
Patience is produced by faith.
Patience in the Bible is the Greek word, makrothymeō, which means long-suffering (example: Love is patient or bravely enduring misfortune or trouble).
It’s totally understandable to be frustrated with your lack of a love life. Godly men can feel as rare as spotting a unicorn but they’re out there…somewhere. If singleness is a source of long-suffering, God is working patience in you through your faith.Faith is not about instant gratification but God glorification. Click To Tweet
Marriage is not a guarantee.
I know so many young women who are frustrated with their singleness. They wonder if they’ll be permanently single. Unfortunately, that’s not a question I can answer. You may eventually marry but the truth is you won’t know how long that marriage will last. If we’re putting all of our hopes in a man what happens if he’s taken away?
Another issue is making the idea of a husband an idol. We can easily think, If only I had a husband, I’d be (fill in the blank: happy, whole, “normal”) but whatever problems we’ve had before marriage will only be magnified. It’s only by the grace of God that our individual brokenness coming together won’t break our marriages apart.
It’ll be worth the wait.
Whenever we’re suffering for a long time, there’s a reason for it. We know that what we’re waiting for has value. Our hearts have value, which Jesus showed by dying on the Cross for us. Don’t despise your waiting season. God is working behind the scenes. For all her years of singleness, of fasting and prayer, did Anna know what she would see the coming of Israel’s true King? Did she know that her faithfulness to serving God in the temple would one day bring her to the same place the baby Jesus would be presented? Our faithfulness and patience will bring us where we need to be. We may not see it right away but our timetable is no longer our own, it belongs to God.
Waiting is a beautiful illustration to us of greater things to come.
Use what God has given you.
Anna didn’t have much but all she had, she gave to the Lord: herself. So many times, we look at our singleness as a deep lack on our parts but God sees endless possibilities. Paul was an especially loud advocate of singleness letting us know that when we get married our hearts become divided. We need to pay attention to the needs of our husbands and nurturing that relationship while still maintaining our personal relationship with God.
In our singleness, our focus can be fully focused on the Lord and the work He has for us in the present. That work is no less meaningful because we are not partnered with a man. It becomes all the more meaningful because we are wholly dependent on God. Why is Anna only mentioned once in the Scriptures? I believe Anna is mentioned in Luke to show just that; what man would call insignificant, God rewarded what she offered Him for so long.
God will honor what you offer Him, especially you’re singleness. You are submitting your life to Him and God tends to do awesome, amazing things when trust Him with all that we are. The Bible repeatedly shows how God uses one person to create a nation, rise up a king from among the shepherds, and save us from an eternity without Him.
Don’t give up on the weapons God has given you to overcome the lies and temptations of the enemy. You are created to be strong in Him, persistent in fighting the good fight and surrendered to His direction.
He won’t mislead you.
He will never forget you.
Don’t lose heart and don’t lose hope.
I’d love to know – Have you been losing your patience with singleness?